Stewart’s loyalties divided for his long-awaited Wembley experience

Served his time: Mickey Stewart (far right) catches up with former team-mates at a celebration for the 50th anniversary of  Corinthian Casuals' FA Amateur Cup final against Bishops Auckland. Stewart will be a guest of Casuals at Wembley. Deadlinepix Mike

Served his time: Mickey Stewart (far right) catches up with former team-mates at a celebration for the 50th anniversary of Corinthian Casuals' FA Amateur Cup final against Bishops Auckland. Stewart will be a guest of Casuals at Wembley. Deadlinepix Mike

First published in Sport Wimbledon Guardian: Photograph of the Author by , Sports editor

Former England cricket supremo Mickey Stewart is set to break the habit of a lifetime of missing his teams play at Wembley when he watches Corinthian Casuals take on AFC Wimbledon on Sunday.

The 75-year-old Surrey CCC stalwart and ex-Don famously missed an appearance for Casuals in the FA Amateur Cup final at the Twin Towers in 1956 because he was on a county cricket tour in the Caribbean.

Thirty-two years later, the then-England cricket team manager was absent for the Dons' famous 1-0 FA Cup final victory over Liverpool because he was preparing a team to face the West Indies.

Stewart was once forced to sit out a Great Britain Olympic clash with Bulgaria because he was a professional cricketer, and has never played at Wembley. He will watch his teams on the hallowed turf this weekend, but it will not make up for the misery of missing out on winning an international cap.

"Missing the FA Amateur Cup final wasn't really an issue for me because, when we won the semi-final, I already knew I wasn't available for the match at Wembley and was prepared for it," he said.

"That match against Bishop Auckland was a draw and I got permission to leave the West Indies to try to make the replay.

"I left the Caribbean on the Thursday and missed the start of the replay on the Saturday by a few minutes.

"I couldn't even come on to play because they didn't have subs in those days.

"The match in the Olympics was more of a disappointment. I wasn't allowed to play because I was a professional sportsman.

"I watched that game at Wembley and missed the Olympics.

"It is the only time I've been upset to miss a match and it is probably the worst I have felt."

Stewart started his football career at Wimbledon as a 17-year-old before moving to Casuals and then into professional ranks with Charlton Athletic.

He returned to Casuals as boss before taking the England cricket team manager's post in 1986 - it was the summer Test series against the West Indies in 1988 that stopped him seeing the Dons' finest hour.

Stewart, who will be a guest of Corinthian Casuals at the weekend, still attends matches at King George's Field.

And the former England boss has nothing but praise for the job boss Brian Adamson has done in keeping Casuals in Ryman League Division One South this term.

"They have done a tremendous job. As soon as a player looks like being any good they head elsewhere because Casuals don't pay their players," he added.

"To be where they are is a great achievement and Sunday will be a great occasion."

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